Our capacity to experience fear is a gift from God. It protects us from harm by sensing possible danger and motivating us to act. But fear can also dominate our lives. We worry about the future, about our health, about disappointing our friends and family. When these worries play over and over in our minds without resolution, it can rob us of joy and keep us from pursuing the life we're meant to live.
In Living Unafraid, Pastor Hamilton walks readers through 31 of the Bible's most-loved stories, showing how the people of Scripture found hope in God in the face of adversity and some of life's most frightening situations. Each day, he unpacks a new lessonfrom Creation to the Gospels to the final words of Revelationshowing how God's love and deliverance can empower us for the battles we face today.
Thoughtful, practical, and grounded in Scripture, Living Unafraid is an essential read for anyone seeking hope along life's journey.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)|
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I Will Fear No Evil
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. (Psalm 23:4 KJV)
I pulled a chair next to her hospital bed and took her hand in mine. She’d been battling cancer for the better part of two years, and now her journey was nearing an end. She’d been amazingly strong throughout her treatment. Now she looked anxious. She asked me, “Adam, would you read me the words of the Twenty-third Psalm once more?” As I did, I invited her to say them with me.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
I could sense her mulling over each phrase as she repeated them out loud. She pictured Jesus standing by her, lovingly watching over her. She imagined the green pastures and the pond at her grandparents’ home, where so many lovely childhood memories had been formed.
I told her how, on a recent trip to the Holy Land, some Bedouin shepherds invited me to join them as they drove their flock two hours into the desert. The entire journey, I was struck by how close the flock stayed to the shepherds. In that dry and barren land, the shepherds carefully led their flock to areas with vegetation and cisterns, drawing clean water for the sheep to drink. And if a sheep started to wander, at the sound of the shepherd’s voice it would immediately run back.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” she continued, “for thou art with me.” Her words slowed, each one spoken with conviction, and the anxiety began to loosen from her eyes. “Thou art with me,” she repeated.
As we prayed the psalm’s final lines, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” the woman remarked on how well those words described her life. “There has been pain, and sorrow, and some suffering,” she said, “but through it all, I’ve felt his goodness and mercy with me.” As I prepared to leave the hospital that day, the fear had vanished from the woman’s face.
Psalm 23 has brought peace and comfort to people of faith for nearly three thousand years. It is a reminder of the many blessings in our lives, the moments when our hearts are full and our lives are overflowing with good things. And in times of pain, sorrow, and suffering, it is a reminder that God is our shepherd—that he is always with us, and because of this we do not need to be afraid.
I invite you to read the psalm aloud, making it your prayer for today. As you do, imagine God as your shepherd, and you his lamb whom he watches over, protects, and cares for.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23:1–6 KJV)
During that day’s cool evening breeze, [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God in the middle of the garden’s trees. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard your sound in the garden; I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:8–10)
Maggie, our family’s beloved beagle, was a terrific dog who remained our companion for almost eighteen years. Like most beagles, she also had a great nose. One year, right after Halloween, that nose got her in trouble. My wife, LaVon, and I always buy a bit more candy than we’ll need for trick-or-treaters, planning to enjoy it in the weeks that follow. (Peanut butter cups are our favorite.) After the last kids had rung our doorbell that night, we took the basket of candy and put it on the second shelf in our pantry.
You know where this is going, right? While we were at work the next day, Maggie pushed open the pantry door and somehow grabbed the basket from the second shelf. We came home to find a trail of candy wrappers strewn across the floor.
Maggie usually ran to meet us at the door, but that night there was no sign of her. Knowing that chocolate can be deadly for a dog, we began to shout, “Maggie!” But Maggie didn’t come. We kept shouting and searching, worried that something had happened to her. That was when we noticed that there were wrappers in the bedroom, leading under the bed. When we looked under the bed, there she was. To our relief she did not appear to be sick, but she did look pretty guilty, tail tucked between her legs, aware that she’d done something she wasn’t supposed to do.
Maggie’s story reminds me of the first time fear shows up in the Bible. You likely know the story. God created Adam and Eve and gave them the Garden of Eden for their home. It was a beautiful place, lovely and safe, with the most wonderful things to see and eat. There was just one rule: Don’t eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
But you know how that goes—tell someone not to eat something, and suddenly it becomes the one thing they most desperately want. So, with the help of the talking serpent, Adam and Eve convinced themselves that it was really okay to eat the forbidden fruit. They plucked and ate it. And immediately they understood that they’d made a mistake. Ashamed, and afraid of being caught and exposed, they tried to hide from God.
This is not simply the story of two people who lived ages ago. This is our story. Each of us has heard the serpent’s whisper, calling us to do what we know we should not do. And when we succumb to temptation, the fear of getting caught usually comes next.
I wonder if you ever fear being exposed. It might be because of something you did that you knew was wrong, something that would lead to public embarrassment, or worse, if people found out. As a pastor for thirty years, I’ve heard many confessions—about things people sought God’s forgiveness for, even if they were not ready to admit these things to anyone else. Here I’ve seen the truth behind the cliché “Confession is good for the soul.” When we finally admit the wrong we’ve done and seek to make amends, fear often gives way to relief.
The Bible promises that God is “rich in mercy” and “abounding in steadfast love.” The theologian Paul Tillich put it another way, saying that forgiveness is “God’s answer to the questions implied by our existence.” The preeminent sign of God’s forgiveness was a cross, upon which Jesus hung, praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Table of Contents
Day 1 I Will Fear No Evil (Psalm 23:4) 7
Day 2 Exposed (Genesis 3:8-10) 11
Day 3 The Ark (Genesis 6:5-6, 13-14a) 15
Day 4 Leaving Home (Genesis 12:1-4a) 19
Day 5 Wrestling with God (Genesis 32:9-11, 22-24) 23
Day 6 From Prisoner to Prime Minister (Genesis 37: 23-27, Genesis 50:15, 19-21a) 29
Day 7 Please Send Someone Else (Exodus: 3:1-2, 4, 10; 4:13) 35
Day 8 Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua 1:5-9) 39
Day 9 Two Are Better Than One (Ruth 1:16-17) 43
Day 10 The Giants in Your Life (1 Samuel 17:4-7) 47
Day 11 Whom Shall I Fear? (Psalm 27:1) 51
Day 12 Missing Out (1 Kings 6:38-7:1) 55
Day 13 Praying to Die (1 Kings 19:2-4) 59
Day 14 For I Am Your God (Isaiah 43:1-3a) 65
Day 15 I Know the Plans I Have for You (Jeremiah 29:11-14) 69
Day 16 The Steadfast Love of the Lord (Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-23a) 73
Day 17 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:14-15) 77
Day 18 For Such a Time as This (Esther 4:12-14) 83
Day 19 God Is Honoring You (Luke 1:26b-32a, 38) 89
Day 20 Wrestling with the Devil (Matthew 4:1-3) 93
Day 21 A Dangerous, Revolutionary Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) 99
Day 22 The Storms at Sea (Matthew 14:24-33) 105
Day 23 Facing Opposition (Mark 2:6-7, Luke 4:28-29, John 10:31, John 6:66-67) 111
Day 24 When Jesus Was Afraid (Mark 14:32-36) 117
Day 25 When Courage Fails Us (Matthew 26:31, 33-35) 121
Day 26 The Seven Last Words of Jesus (Luke 23:46) 127
Day 27 Easter (John 20:19-21) 133
Day 28 This Little Light of Mine (Matthew 28:18-20) 137
Day 29 Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) 143
Day 30 In Every Situation (2 Corinthians 11:23c-27) 149
Day 31 How the Story Ends (Revelation 21:1-4) 153